|Not even a 10-run deficit can bother a Challenger team on fire.|
Starter Benny Räber pitched one of his shortest games as he was roughed up for 10 earned runs in just 2-3 innings of work, allowing 10 baserunners on eight hits - two of them home runs - and two walks before being lifted for reliever Patrick Zöllig.
Zöllig (1-0) faced just two more batters before finishing the first inning, and he went on to pitch the next three innings, as well.
Coma faced 10 batters in the second inning alone before Armin Blickenstorfer's RBI-single chased him. That single was also the 4'500th hit in Challengers team history.
Reliever Jeff Cloos allowed one more RBI-single before closing off the inning, but the Challengers crept within two runs.
Zöllig ran into a bump on the road to his victory in the third inning as he allowed the first six batters to reach safely. Five of them scored to give the Barracudas again a commanding 16-9 lead.
Coma again took over, and he was greeted by Roger Brunner's solo homer to cut the Barracudas' lead to a narrow 16-15.
Zöllig allowed just two more runs to score in the top of the fourth inning on Farid Bekkali's solo homer and an RBI-double by Giambonini.
But the Challengers first had to take the lead, and they did it in big fashion as the first five batters reached on three singles, a double and a walk. Coma was again chased by Blickenstorfer who singled off him, making way for reliever Bekkali.
And Brunner did the same to Bekkali as he did to Coma an inning earlier: greet the reliever with a homer.
One more run scored to give the Challengers a temporary 21-18 lead, and it proved to be enough as Marchant was on fire again.
Both Jose Valdez and Chris Palatinus got their 200th NLA-hits in the third inning on a double each. ...Marchant has now pitched 12 scoreless innings this season, and he also collected his 100th RBI in the NLA with an RBI-single in the fourth inning. ...Brunner singled in his 400th NLA at-bat in the second inning. He also set career-highs with his 28th run scored and his sixth homer of the season.
by Chris Palatinus
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